Sir George speaks out on Airfield Development
6 Jul 2007
Following the planning application put in by Goodman's for the Andover Airfield Site, Sir George has repeated the views he expressed earlier.
"I want to see the airfield site developed to provide new jobs - as proposed in the local plan. But Andover should be ambitious about the jobs it should generate in the future.

"Andover is fortunate to have relatively high employment and I welcome that; but average wages in the town are not high; they are way below the average for the rest of Hampshire. And this in turn affects the prosperity of the town as a whole, and the range of services and shops it can sustain. There are of course people in and around Andover who earn good wages and salaries, but a very high proportion of them commute out to get to work.

"We need to get a better mix of jobs in Andover in the future; we already have many firms in transport and distribution, but we are desperately short of firms in the growth industries of tomorrow - knowledge -based industries, research and development, biotechnology and the creative industries.

"We need to attract employers who can pay above average wages for these more highly-skilled jobs. The reality is that most of the jobs in the proposed warehouse would be relatively low paid; and the size of the proposed development would squeeze out other job-creating opportunities which might serve the interests of the town better.

"I was a member of the Andover Vision Board which said this about employment in the town under the heading It's our time for 21st Century Enterprise:

"....we want to bring new skills into the town, new skills to support business growth and create the high quality employment opportunities we need."
The vision board identifies Andover Airfield as a "business park offering a range of office, industrial and storage facilities.
Sir George said:
"This is the largest cleared site that Andover has for new employment. We must ensure we get the right balance of jobs here and not simply accept the first bid that comes along. We should be ambitious for the town, and for the jobs we can offer those who live here."
Sir George said he believed the transport implications of the proposal had not been fully thought through, and that objections might be made by Highway Authorities.
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